PhD Student in primary forest research

Lund University


October 20, 2022


Lund University, Department of Physical Geograhy and Ecosystem Science

Lund University was founded in 1666 and is repeatedly ranked among the world's top 100 universities. The University has around 44 000 students and more than 8 000 staff based in Lund, Helsingborg and Malmö. We are united in our efforts to understand, explain and improve our world and the human condition.

Lund University welcomes applicants with diverse backgrounds and experiences. We regard gender equality and diversity as a strength and an asset.

States and changes in European primary forests Few primary forests remain in Europe and we know surprisingly little about those that do. Even the locations of many of them has been a mystery. This PhD project aims to study primary forests to answer some of the following questions:

  • Do primary forests store more or less C in vegetation, dead wood and soil than managed forests do?
  • Are primary forest states changing over time due to global environmental change?
  • Are primary forests more or less stable during drought and heat waves compared to managed forests?
  • Has mortality and disturbances increased or decreased in primary forests over recent decades and are such changes different from managed forests?
  • This project will combine fieldwork with analysis of forest inventory and remote sensing data to contribute to answering these broader questions.

    Motivation and background Primary forests have many names, including pristine forests and virgin forests. They are characterized by little to no direct human impact, mainly the lack of logging. Humans use more than 75% of ice-free land globally, and pristine ecosystems have been transformed to crop lands, pastures and managed forests. Mapping, measuring and studying primary forests serves two purposes:

    (1) Whilst we can increasingly detect changes in forest productivity, biomass and even mortality from space, the lack of precise land use maps means that it has been hard to determine what is natural dynamics and what is human intervention (e.g. logging, fertilization, planting). Primary forests are ideal sites to study natural processes since they are defined by little to no past and present direct human impact.

    (2) How much carbon pristine forests store or the biodiversity they harbor, can be used to estimate how human land use has affected land carbon storage and biodiversity. Acquiring maps, knowledge and understanding of primary forests in a timely manner is key since old growth forests are being logged and lost at a high rate in Europe and globally. The states of primary forests are also informative for the states that could be reached when restoring ecosystems through free development protection or re-wilding.

    Work duties The project offers great flexibility and opportunities for a motivated candidate, the focus of the project can be shifted between three main parts, depending on the interests/skills of the candidate.

    (1) Mapping and estimation of carbon storage in European primary forests. The estimation of carbon storage will combine sampling performed in the project with previous inventory work by this group in primary forests.

    Questions: Do primary forests store more or less C in vegetation, dead wood and soil than managed forests do? Is the uptake of C over time positive or negative?, higher or lower in primary forests compared to managed forests?(2) Remote sensing of trends and changes in primary forests since the early 1980s. The focus here would be on changes in greenness or mortality and disturbances over time.

    Questions: Have primary forests become greener since the 1980s? If so, more or less than comparable managed forests? Are primary forests more or less stable during drought and heat waves compared to managed forests? Has mortality and disturbances increased or decreased in primary forests over recent decades?

    (3) Contribute to the establishment and study of a new long-term ecosystem monitoring network in primary forests.

    In general the main duties of doctoral students are to devote themselves to their research studies which includes participating in research projects and third cycle courses. The work duties can also include teaching and other departmental duties (no more than 20%).

    Admission requirements A person meets the general admission requirements for third-cycle courses and study programmes if he or she:

  • has been awarded a second-cycle qualification, or
  • has satisfied the requirements for courses comprising at least 240 credits of which at least 60 credits were awarded in the second cycle, or
  • has acquired substantially equivalent knowledge in some other way in Sweden or abroad.
  • Additional requirements:

    The applicants are expected to hold a university degree (preferably MSc. or equivalent) in natural sciences. A degree in subjects like Physical Geography, Earth System Science, Environmental Sciences, Ecology or similar is preferable.

    Assessment criteria Selection for third-cycle studies is based on the student's potential to profit from such studies. The assessment of potential is made primarily on the basis of academic results from the first and second cycle. Special attention is paid to the following:

  • Knowledge and skills relevant to the thesis project and the subject of study.
  • An assessment of ability to work independently and to formulate and tackle research problems.
  • Written and oral communication skills
  • Other experience relevant to the third-cycle studies, e.g. professional experience.
  • Very good oral and written proficiency in English.
  • Documented experience in field studies is an advantage.
  • Experience of scientific publication in English is an asset.
  • Documented experience of all or some of the following methods; field carbon inventory, mapping, remote sensing or statistical modelling.
  • Experience in programming and tools for spatial statistics, geographical information systems and remote sensing.
  • Experience in working in remote locations.
  • Experience in applying for and acquiring external funding.
  • Experience and ability to work individually and organise an individual schedule to fulfill a specific goal.
  • Experience in working in and leading a team.
  • Interest in working internationally, which may include visits at international collaborators.
  • Be able to provide the name and contact information to three references.
  • Consideration will also be given to good collaborative skills, drive and independence, and how the applicant, through his or her experience and skills, is deemed to have the abilities necessary for successfully completing the third cycle programme.

    Terms of employment Only those admitted to third cycle studies may be appointed to a doctoral studentship. Doctoral studentships are regulated in the Higher Education Ordinance (1993:100), chapter 5, 1-7 §§.

    Instructions on how to apply Applications shall be written in English and include a 1 page maximum cover letter stating the reasons why you are interested in the position and in what way the research project corresponds to your interests and educational background. The application must also contain a CV, degree certificate or equivalent, and other documents you wish to be considered (grade transcripts, contact information for your references, letters of recommendation, etc.). It is appreciated if the application contains a link or otherwise to an accessible copy of a master thesis and other scientific work of the applicant, and the contact iunformation to three referenses.

    The Faculty of Science conducts research and education within Biology, Astronomy, Physics, Geosciences, Chemistry, Mathematics and Environmental Science. The Faculty is organized into nine departments, gathered in the northern campus area. The Faculty has approximately 1500 students, 330 PhD students and 700 employees.

    We kindly decline all sales and marketing contacts.

    Type of employment Temporary position longer than 6 months

    First day of employment According to agreement Salary Monthly salary Number of positions 1 Working hours 100 City Lund County Skåne län Country Sweden Reference number PA2022/3013 Contact

  • Anders Ahlström,,+46732028487
  • Union representative

  • OFR/ST:Fackförbundet ST:s kansli, 046-2229362
  • SACO:Saco-s-rådet vid Lunds universitet, 046-2229364
  • SEKO: Seko Civil, 046-2229366
  • Published 22.Sep.2022 Last application date 20.Oct.2022 11:59 PM CEST

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